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Migraine & Headache Category

Phases of Migraine Explained – Techniques to Outsmart Your Migraine Headache

January 30th, 2020


There are 4 distinct phases to a migraine: Prodrome, Aura, Pain and Postdrome.  Not everyone experience all 4 stages of a migraine.  It is during the first two phases (prodromal and aura) that you get hints that a migraine is coming, and recognizing these hints (symptoms) may give you the edge you need to fight back and either prevent the migraine entirely or decrease the severity and or duration of the pain phase (which is obviously the most debilitating and problematic).

These symptoms, called the prodrome phase, are usually considered ‘warning signs’ that alert the person of an impending migraine episode.

Stage 1 – The Prodrome  – About 65% of migraine sufferers experience emotional or physical symptoms two hours to two days before the pain phase starts.

These symptoms can occur in migraineurs with and without aura.

  • Fatigue
  • Yawning
  • Appetite changes
  • Altered mood – depression
  • Aphasia (trouble speaking/comprehending words)
  • Muscle Stiffness – especially in the neck
  • Appetite changes
  • Digestive changes – (some sufferers vomit up food they ate quite a while ago)
  • Irritability
  • Euphoria
  • Food cravings
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to odors, noise and light
  • Increased urination
  • Sleep disturbances

Physicians who specialize in migraine treatment find that only 30% of sufferers recognize that they have one or more of the “prodrome” symptoms until they are actually told what symptoms to look for. Once informed then up to 80% of sufferers report having one or more of them.

Stage 2 – The Aura – Less than half of migraine sufferers experience the aura stage, neurological symptoms marked by sensory disturbances. Most aura’s are visual, but speaech, hearing or motor abilities can be affected as well.  During this stage, about one-third of patients see flashing lights, wavy lines and blind spots in their field of vision (called scotoma) for a few minutes to a few hours before the pain stage begins. Some also have temporary trouble speaking or feel tingling or numbness on one side of the face or feet called parathesias. Others may develop a hypersensitivity to touch.

Stage 3 – The Pain – Onset of pain can start within minutes or sometimes hours of the commencement of the aura stage. The migraine or headache phase is marked by throbbing or pulsating pain – typically on one side of the head – though it can become so intense that many people feel it in and around the entire head and face. This phase can last up to 72 hours, and the pain intensity varies from mild to excruciating. Besides head pain, other symptoms during this phase can include:

• Nausea or vomiting
• Anxiety
• Insomnia
• Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
• Sensitivity to sound (phonophobia)
• Sensitivity to smell and touch
• Temporary loss of vision (ocular migraines)
• Dizziness and vertigo

Stage 4 – The Postdrome –  During this stage of migraine, even though the pain is gone, some sufferers can feel exhausted, depressed and/or, residual neck pain.  Some people refer to this as the “migraine hangover.” More than 1 in 8 migraine sufferers experience a postdrome. This stage usually starts the day after the migraine and lasts a day or less. Some symptoms may include:

• Fatigue
• Trouble concentrating
• Neck stiffness
• Muscle aches
• Malaise
• Mild headache

What to try when you notice any of the symptoms in either the “prodrome” or “aura” phases-

If you haven’t realized it already, it is advantageous to experience either or both of these stages because they can both serve as a type of “advanced warning” system that a migraine is imminent.

It is to your advantage to try to address preventing your migraine as early as possible, so focus on the 13 symptoms listed in the prodromal section.

If you don’t experience any of these, but do experience the symptoms listed in the “aura” section, then that’s when you can start trying the following techniques to prevent your migraine from occurring:


(None of these techniques work for everybody. You will need to experiment to see which of them help you the most.)

1-   H2O – Drink plenty of room temperature water to make sure you are well hydrated.

2-  EAT  Slow Release Carbohydrates  such as a banana, crackers, toast or pinto beans

3-  BREATHE  – If you feel stressed, try meditating if you know how, or try these breathing exercises:

Stress Reducing-Breathing:
The depth and rate of our breathing respectively decrease and increase when we are stressed. This can deplete oxygen flow to the body and the brain. Please do this breathing exercise exactly as it is described at least 3 times a day:

Blow your breath out through your mouth and then seal your lips. Breathe in slowly through your nose for 10 seconds while expanding your chest. Hold it for 30 seconds while trying to think about “nothing”.

At the end of 30 seconds then slowly expel the breath you were holding, through your lips over a 15 second interval. Notice how your entire body relaxes throughout this breathing exercise especially during the exhalation segment.

Repeat this sequence at least 3 times in a row, working yourself up do doing it 5X in a row, three times a day.

Perhaps have someone massage you (if massage relaxes you.) Try taking a warm (not hot or cold) bath.

4-  REST – Lie down away from noise, light or any known trigger factors

5-  ESSENTIAL OILS – Try applying essential oils of peppermint or lavender to your temples, forehead and or neck, for a tingling/cooling sensation and aromatherapy effect. The MigreLief Migraine Stick roll-on is a convenient combination of soothing essential oils; Peppermint, Lavender, Spearmint and Rosemary in a Jojoba oil base.

6-   IBUPROFEN – I am hesitant to suggest you consider taking any OTC or prescription medicines for pain based upon the symptoms of the prodrome phase because I don’t want people to medicate unnecessarily. (If you are pretty sure that one of the prodrome symptoms is a reliable indication that you are going to get a migraine, that would be an exception).  But I do suggest trying either of these medications if you experience the symptoms of the aura phase.  (Of course you should confirm that it is OK taking any medication with your physician.)

7-  DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS – Certain vitamins, minerals and herbs promote a healthy inflammatory response, help reduce blood platelet aggregation, relax blood vessels and help with cells’ energy production thus addressing the dysfunctional processes in the brain before and during a migraine attack.  They include, ginger, feverfew, magnesium and boswellia serrata.  A dietary supplement that contains all four of these ingredients is MigreLief-NOW, as-needed nutritional support for on-the-spot neurological comfort.

8-   GET OFF THE COMPUTER – Stop working on your computer.  The flickering or flashing lights of a computer screen is a trigger to some migraine sufferers.

9-   WALK –  If it’s not too hot or cold, get out and take a walk at a moderate pace for 10 minutes.

Please remember that none of the above suggestions works for everyone. You will have to experiment to see if one or more of these techniques works for you.

To the Best of Health,


Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.
Akeso Health Sciences


Quinoa – Amazing Superfood for Migraine Sufferers

January 29th, 2020

This amazing low-fat, high protein food could…

* protect against heart disease
* help to prevent type II diabetes
* help with migraines
* provide antioxidant protection
* Protect against breast cancer
*Protect against childhood asthma
* Prevent gallstones
* Provide all 9 essential amino acid (protein building blocks)
* Provide healthy levels of dietary fiber and magnesium

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is an ancient whole grain that has been recently rediscovered in the U.S.  The Inca’s once held the crop to be sacred, calling it the ‘mother of all grains’.


Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2  percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice and 14 percent for wheat.  Unlike rice and potatoes, for which quinoa is an excellent replacement, it is a whole grain food source which results in many of the health benefits listed above.  Quinoa is gluten-free and high in protein content, which also makes it a wonderful choice for vegetarians.  Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s long-duration manned spaceflights.


High nutritional content of 100gms or half cup of cooked quinoa –

Magnesium: 17% of the Recommended Daily Allowance
Complete Protein: 4 grams
Fiber: 3 grams.
Manganese: 32% of Recommended Daily Allowance
Phosphorus: 15% of the Recommended Daily Allowance

It is also packed with minerals like Zinc, Iron, Copper, and Potassium along with B-Vitamins and Calcium. These tiny grains are also good for weight watchers offering a total of 120 calories, 21 gms of carbs and 2 gms of fat. Quinoa is also a source of Omega-3 fatty acids.


Quinoa is a good source of magnesium and riboflavin, which are also key ingredients in MigreLief dietary supplements.  These ingredients have been shown to help relax blood vessels, encourage energy production within cells and help to maintain normal cerebrovascular tone and function.  Magnesium is involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Studies show that many migraine sufferers have low levels of magnesium. Studies have also shown that many migraine sufferers have  a deficiency in mitochondrial (powerhouse in cells) energy right before an attack.  Mitochondrial dysfunction in your brain cells can make you more susceptible to migraines which studies show vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) can help correct.


Both the glycemic index and the glycemic load of quinoa (these are measurements of how various foods can impact your blood sugar levels) are favorable as well, when compared to rice or potatoes.

A half cup of cooked quinoa contains only about 110 calories and with its fiber content makes it a good choice for those trying to watch their weight, as well


Quinoa is typically simmered, as you would prepare rice. It’s often added to savory recipes, like salads, sautés, and soups. You can also serve it alongside grilled or pan-seared meats and fish.

When whole, quinoa seeds have an outer husk coated with a natural substance called saponin. This protects the seeds from the birds. While the husk is already removed when you buy commercial quinoa, some of the saponin can remain. It’s rather bitter, so it’s important to rinse the quinoa well before simmering it.

Some Serving Ideas for Quinoa:

* Use quinoa as a side-dish replacing rice, potatoes or even pasta

* Many health food stores carry quinoa sourced pasta noodles

* With nuts and fruits, quinoa makes an excellent porridge

* Quinoa can be added to vegetable soups

* Use sprouted quinoa in sandwiches or salads instead of alfalfa sprouts



Quinoa Porridge with fruit

When slowly cooked in a mixture of water and milk with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, quinoa seeds become a rich porridge with a soft bite. If you’re a quinoa fan, it’s a lovely alternative to oatmeal in the morning.

You can easily adapt this breakfast quinoa to your personal tastes and dietary needs. For a softer rather than chewy quinoa, especially this sweet breakfast dish, adjust the seed-to-liquid ratio (add more liquid) until you find the perfect texture for you.

For a non-dairy breakfast, quinoa porridge is also delicious prepared with almond milk or coconut milk


1 cup water
1-1/2 cups milk (whole, low fat, almond, or coconut), plus more for serving
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 cup quinoa , rinsed well
pinch salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar , plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup blueberries (or berries of your choice)
sliced almonds, walnuts or chopped toasted pecans , for topping

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine water, 1-1/2 cups milk, vanilla extract or paste, rinsed quinoa, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat (stirring occasionally and watching carefully so it doesn’t boil over).
Reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly vented, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in 3 tablespoons brown sugar and the ground cinnamon. Re-cover and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat and gently fold in blueberries. Serve, topped with extra brown sugar or maple syrup, warm milk, and nuts.

Enjoy quinoa for its taste and texture as well as its multiple health benefits.  You will be very pleasantly surprised and pleased to add it to your family’s diet.






Menstrual Migraines are More Severe, Last Longer and are More Resistant to Treatment

January 1st, 2020


Menstrual migraines that occur only monthly can progress into chronic migraines.  Researchers are discovering that migraines beget migraines, the more you have the more you will tend to get. They are not sure why but suspect the brain goes into a state of hypersensitivity, making prevention- key.

Menstrual migraines are fueled by the drop in estrogen levels just prior to menstruation. True “Menstrual Migraines” occur at the time of menstruation.  “Menstrually Related Migraines” occur throughout the menstrual cycle.  Menstrual migraines are now considered a separate disorder from other types of migraine.

Menstrual migraines are difficult to control.  Approximately 1 in 7 adults have migraines, but women are three times more likely to be affected than men and 60% to 70% report a menstrual relationship to their migraine attacks.  Menstrual related migraine attacks are often more severe, last significantly longer, and are more resistant to treatment than the usual non-menstrual migraine attacks.

Menstrual Migraine Help


According to a study published in the medical journal, Cephalalgia:

  • > On average, a menstrual migraine lasted 23.4 hours vs 16.1 hours for non-menstrual migraines.
  • > Menstrual migraines cause more disability and inability to function in daily tasks than non-menstrual migraines
  • > Medications to treat the pain of migraines were 50% less effective when used to treat menstrual migraines.
  • > Even when the pain medication did work, the risk of the menstrual migraine reoccurring was much more likely.

The authors of the study concluded by saying – “Menstrual migraines may require a treatment approach different from that of non-menstrual migraines.”

Other literature indicates only 13.5% of sufferers are pain-free after 2 hours compared to 32.9% of non-menstrual migraine attacks.  This indicates that 86.5% of menstrual migraine sufferers and 67.1% of non-menstrual migraine sufferers do not achieve complete relief from debilitating migraine pain after 2 hours.

The “Terrible Twosome” of Hormonal Fluctuations and Insulin Resistance Can Wreak Havoc on a Woman’s Over-All Health and Cause Symptoms of PMS, PCOS and Menstrual Migraines

Insulin resistance is the body’s inability to respond well to insulin, which controls blood sugar levels and can lead to Type II diabetes, abdominal weight gain and migraines.  High insulin levels due to insulin resistance increase the production of the male hormone, testosterone. High testosterone levels cause symptoms such as body hair growth, acne, irregular periods and weight gain (all of these are PCOS symptoms).

There is a Direct Relationship between Hormones and Migraines

Headaches in women, particularly migraines, have been related to changes in the levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone before, during and after a woman’s menstrual cycle. Estrogen, progesterone and even testosterone levels can fluctuate significantly a few days before and after menstruation leading to migraines and causing symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) such as:

PMS Symptoms:

  • » Menstrual migraines
  • » Anxiety
  • » Overeating
  • » Breast Swelling
  • » Weight Gain
  • » Bloating
  • » Irritability & Mood Swings|
  • » Abdominal and Pelvic Cramps
  • » Fatigue
  • » Headaches
  • » Changes in Libido
  • » Depression
  • » Insomnia
  • » Acne
  • » Hives


PCOS Symptoms:

  • » Hair loss: similar to male pattern baldness
  • » Obesity and inability to lose weight
  • » Acne

Menopause and Migraines

Migraine headaches can severely affect women undergoing the changes of menopause.  Statistics indicate that migraines in women tend to increase during the approach to menopause and during menopause; however, they tend to decrease or go away after menopause.  It is also known that some women who have never had migraines develop them as they enter the period before (pre and peri-menopause) and during menopause.

Nutritional Support for Women with Hormonal Migraines

Key nutritional supplements have been proven beneficial for migraines sufferers.  A great, drug free option for women suffering menstrual/hormonal migraines is Akeso Health Science’s MigreLief+M.

In addition to the 3 popular ‘Triple Therapy” ingredients in Original MigreLief,  MigreLief+M contains 5 additional ingredients that have been shown to not only balance blood sugar swings and the hormonal fluctuations that lead to menstrual migraines, but to also significantly decrease PMS and PCOS symptoms.http://migrelief.wpengine.com/migreliefm

Ingredients: (2 caplets contain)

Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2, 400 mg/day)*

Puracol Feverfew (100 mg/day)*

Magnesium (citrate/oxide, 360mg/day)*

Chasteberry extract (175 mg/day)

L-Theanine (100 mg/day)

D-Biotin (15 mg/day)

Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (vitamin B-6, 100 mg/day)

Chromium Picolinate (1,000 mcg/day)

*Riboflavin, feverfew and magnesium are listed in the American Academy of Neurology’s Guidelines for Migraine Prevention (Detailed Ingredients Description)

MigreLief Making a Difference for Over 2 Decades

The “MigreLief Nutritional Regimen for Menstrual Migraine Sufferers” consists of taking MigreLief+M daily and fast-acting MigreLief-NOW “as-needed.”  Until MigreLief+M, no one product was available to address both hormonal and blood sugar fluctuation, migraines and other symptoms associated with a woman’s hormones or menstrual cycle.

If  unsure about  migraine triggers, keep a migraine diary/trigger tracker to determine the presence of menstrual migraines  and note occurrence in relation to menstrual cycle , severity, and response to usual  treatment.

MigreLief supplements have been changing the lives of migraine sufferers  for over 2 decades.  All MigreLief supplement were formulated by scientist Curt Hendrix .  Curt holds advanced degrees in chemistry and clinical nutrition, and has dedicated his life to the research and development of innovative natural medicines. Curt’s research in the field of neurological disorders has resulted in grants from the US government’s National Institutes of Health where he was the principal scientific investigator for studying natural compounds for Alzheimer’s disease.  Curt also holds many U.S. patents, including  leading-edge effective nutritional formulas for migraine sufferers.

To the Best of Health,

The MigreLief Team at Akeso Health Sciences

Learn more about MigreLief+M!

SAVE 20% at MigreLief.com on All MigreLief Supplement and All New “Sleep All Night” natural sleep aide.




What Are Essential Oils and Why is Everybody Using Them?

November 24th, 2019

What Are Essential Oils and Why is Everybody Using Them?


Over the past few years, essential oils have taken the alternative medicine market by storm. Available at pharmacies, grocery stores, yoga studios, and everything in between – these little vials of concentrated aromas have hundreds of thousands of people sniffing their way into wellness and relaxation.

But contrary to popular belief, essential oils are not a recent discovery. Humans have used distilled botanicals for a variety of purposes for thousands of years. In fact, the history of essential oils dates as far back as 5,000 years to Egypt.

Ancient Egyptians used essential oils for a variety of purposes that ranged from embalming mummies to cosmetic and healing practices. The modern term “aromatherapy” was used for the first time in the early 1900s by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French cosmetic chemist known for his essential oil research. Nowadays, we know that botanical oils can help treat skin conditions, inflammation, stress, and much more.

What Are Essential Oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated botanical extracts. To make them, the most aromatic part – which varies depending on the type of plant – is extracted through pressing or steaming mechanisms. Often, it takes several pounds of a single plant to make one essential oil bottle, which means that these liquids are incredibly potent.

People often use essential oils in one of two ways: inhaled or applied to the skin topically. Because oils release scent molecules, they travel through the nose to the brain, triggering emotional responses from the amygdala. Depending on the plant, diluted essential oils may help reduce inflammation, promote overall comfort, and help with relaxation.

What Are the Benefits of Essential Oils

Because these concentrated plant extracts are rich in chemical compounds, many essential oils can serve different purposes. Here are three proven benefits of essential oils:

Improved Mood

When you inhale an essential oil, thousands of microscopic scent molecules dispersed around the air enter your nose and travel directly to your brain. Once in the brain, they reach the amygdala – an almond-shaped collection of neurons tucked deep inside the temporal lobe.

The amygdala is known as the emotional processing center of the body. It plays a vital role in our emotional perception, stimuli reaction, and more. Because we tie pleasant smells with positive emotions, when essential oils stimulate the amygdala, our mood tends to improve, and we experience more positive emotions.

Oils that have been observed to be particularly useful at improving mood and boosting energy include:


  • Eucalyptus
  • Ginger root
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Thyme
  • Wild orange


Sleep and Relaxation

Because smell is so closely related to the way that we feel, inhaling soothing scents can facilitate restful sleep. Though there are numerous sleep-inducing oils, several studies point at lavender oil as the most beneficial essential oil for sleep. For example, one study found that lavender oil lengthened REM sleep while another one showed that lavender oil could also help manage anxiety.

Other essential oils that help fall asleep and reduce stress:


  • Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Geranium
  • Sandalwood
  • Frankincense
  • Clary sage
  • Valerian
  • Bergamot

Boosting Immunity

As cold and flu season approaches, essential oils can be a helpful immunity booster and protect against viruses. Most essential oils are antiseptic, which means that they can help protect against disease-causing microorganisms to some degree, and others are even antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. For example, garlic essential oil can fight off viruses and bacteria, and eucalyptus oil is a natural alternative for colds and congestion.

Best Essential Oils for Migraine Sufferers

Many people who have migraines or frequent headaches look for alternative, drug-free treatments to manage their symptoms to avoid side effects such as rebound headaches or stomach problems. Fortunately, nutritional supplements, yoga, mindfulness, and essential oils are fantastic drug-free alternatives.

The best way to use essential oils for migraines and headaches is by applying them to the skin, particularly around the temples, forehead or neck. When you apply essential oils to the skin, you get the benefits from both inhalation and topical relief.

A word of caution when applying essential oils to the skin: these extracts are extremely concentrated and potent, so a little goes a long way. On average, essential oils are up to 70 times stronger than dried herbs – for example, a single drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea (which is a physician-recommended natural remedy for migraines)! Applied on their own, essential oils can trigger allergic reactions or irritate the skin.

The safest options to address migraines and headaches with essential oils are either diluting oils in a base (a plant or vegetable-based oil that helps carry the substance) or purchasing a pre-made migraine stick or roll-on. Essential oil migraine roll-ons are convenient and effective because they come with a mixture of the most effective essential oils for headaches, and are already diluted in a safe, non-irritating base  oil.


Peppermint has been used for thousands of years as an alternative remedy for numerous ailments, including gastrointestinal issues and headaches. Studies have shown that menthol, the main organic compound found in mint, can relieve tension and provide a temporary cooling sensation that soothes pain.

A research study that analyzed more than 140 headache attacks found that patients that applied peppermint essential oil on their foreheads and took a pain reliever reduced their pain significantly faster than those who didn’t use peppermint.

Another study showed that in comparison to a placebo, those who applied a topical solution of peppermint oil were able to stay pain-free longer, reduce their pain faster, and were more successful at relieving nausea and vomiting.


If there is a holy grail for essential oils, it has to be lavender. This versatile essential oil is derived from the plant Lavandula angustifolia, through the distillation (steaming) process. Typically, lavender oil is used for stress and anxiety, pain relief, and for sleeping.

Studies looking at the treatment of migraines with lavender essential oils have shown promising results. In a 2012 placebo-controlled clinical trial, researchers found that those who inhaled lavender oil for 15 minutes reported fewer migraine attacks than those who sniffed a placebo substance.

Similarly, recent a randomized-controlled trial followed migraine sufferers for three months and divided them into two groups: one used lavender oil, and the other group was given a placebo. Their results showed that after three months, the participants who were asked to inhale lavender oil had fewer migraines than the control group.


Also part of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, spearmint is a perennial plant commonly used as a flavoring agent in candy, chewing gum, and toothpaste. Spearmint has many health benefits that range from soothing an upset stomach to killing some strains of oral bacteria.

Spearmint essential oil might help people with migraines because it can reduce stress and improve sleep – both known migraine triggers. Women who suffer hormonal-related headaches or migraines may also benefit from using spearmint essential oils. One research study revealed that just by taking two cups of spearmint tea per day, participants were able to improve their hormonal imbalances.


Rosemary is not just another herb you add to your chicken or your steak; it also is a popular natural medicine for indigestion problems like IBS and heartburn. When inhaled or applied to the skin rosemary essential oil can reduce pain, ease muscle tension, increase alertness, and support brain activity. Studies have also demonstrated that rosemary helps improve mood, reduce stress, and boost memory.

Akeso Health Sciences now offers a MIGRAINE STICK for migraine and headache sufferers containing 100% organic essential oils.



Keep your MigreLief Migraine Stick with you at all times, in your purse, briefcase, or backpack to roll on calming comfort.

SOOTHE & EASE: Use “as-needed” for immediate, on the spot neurological comfort and stress relief
INVIGORATE: Use throughout the day to feel refreshed and relaxed while inviting the pep back in your step.  Great before a workout or while studying.

HOW TO USE:  Shake gently.  Using the roll-on applicator, apply a small amount to the temples and forehead using a circular motion, avoiding the eyes.  May also be applied to the back of the neck or shoulders for extra cooling and relaxation of muscle tension.  For additional aromatherapy benefits, hold roller top one inch beneath nose and breathe deeply for several minutes.


Neurological comfort and ease
Overall feelings of well-being
Calm and relaxation
Rejuvenated senses
Refreshed & invigorated mind and body
Stress relief
Eases muscle tension


USDA 100% Organic
Easy to apply roll-on stick, (temples, forehead, back of neck)
Perfect for everyday use. Keep one in your  home, at work and in your car.
Convenient sized bottle, ideal for travel and ready to go
Dark amber bottle protects oils
No animal testing


More information or to purchase…  MigreLief Migraine Stick



Avoid Common Thanksgiving Migraine Triggers

November 24th, 2019



Common Thanksgiving Migraine Triggers and How to Avoid Them

It seems like only yesterday we were ringing in the new year, and now we’re getting ready for Thanksgiving and holiday season all over again!  Naturally, the last few months of the year should be filled with joy and happiness, with delicious food, family gatherings, and cozy weather reminding us of what’s really important in life.

But when you suffer from migraines, it’s easy to miss out on the fun. For migraineurs, many of the things that people love the most about the holidays – comfort food, scented candles, Christmas lights, etc. – can also set off a migraine attack.  The good news is that knowing what might trigger an attack can give you an upper hand against your migraines this holiday season.

There are four major migraine triggers to look out for during Thanksgiving:


Most migraine sufferers know that it’s not uncommon to get a headache at the end of a particularly tough day.  In fact, according to the American Headache Society, 4 out of 5 migraineurs recognize stress as a trigger.  Experts are still not entirely sure why stress triggers migraines. However, some hypothesize that it might have something to do with the hormones that the body secretes when it’s under stress.

If stress is a big trigger for you, it is essential to avoid taking on too many roles for Thanksgiving and make sure to ask for help. Cooking dinner for guests without help, volunteering to bring too many dishes to the party, or even traveling during the days leading up to Thanksgiving are all common stressors during the holidays.

Food & Drink Triggers

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that revolves around food – every November, people suddenly start craving turkey, gravy, and everything pumpkin spice. However, when you suffer from chronic migraines, it’s important to pay attention to what and how much you eat and drink.

Here are frequent migraine triggers that may be lurking on the Thanksgiving table this year:

Spicy foods
Cured meats
Aged cheese
Pickled foods

Weather Changes

Do your migraines usually occur at the same time each year? If they do, you might be sensitive to temperature and pressure changes. Weather and temperature affect everybody differently; in some people, certain barometric changes can cause chemical imbalances that affect how the brain responds to pain signals. In other cases, bright lights, extreme cold, and dryness or humidity can trigger or worsen migraines.

To avoid weather-related migraine attacks this Thanksgiving, keep an eye on the weather forecast so you’re not caught off-guard and can prepare ahead. For example, plan to stay indoors during extremely cold or windy days; drink plenty of water to keep your sinuses moisturized; and use warm clothing even if you’re going to be outside for a short time.


3 Tips – Getting Through Thanksgiving Migraine-Free

In addition to keeping an eye out for any potential triggers, these tips can help you stay migraine-free during Thanksgiving:

Remember Holidays Past

Did you get a pounding headache last Thanksgiving? Try to remember what you did, ate, and drank that day so you can avoid it this year. Maybe it was all that cheese you ate or the extra glass or two of wine that you had. Perhaps, you know that a family member’s perfume always triggers a migraine, in which case you can politely ask them to refrain from using it this year. Whatever the case may be, use last year’s (or the year before) pain to your advantage this year to plan ahead.


If you are hosting this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, it is crucial to start delegating tasks early on. Asking friends and family members to bring along a food contribution will keep you from stressing out and potentially getting a migraine on the day of the dinner. Also, remember to ask for help whenever you need it. If you feel a migraine coming up, don’t be afraid to leave someone in charge and take a break before it turns into a full-blown attack.

Keep Your Medications Handy

Whether you’re traveling or spending Thanksgiving at home, stock up on your preventive and abortive migraine medications before Thanksgiving if you are running low. A daily nutritional supplement like MigreLief can be of great help during the holiday season; just choose one of the three MigreLief’s everyday formulas and take it twice per day for daily maintenance. You can also use MigreLief-NOW as an as-needed supplement when you need fast-acting support.


Wishing you a wonderful migraine-free Thanksgiving holiday!


Why Going to the Dentist May Help You Prevent Migraines

October 20th, 2019


Can you guess what’s the strongest muscle in the human body? Many muscles, including the tongue, the heart, and the gluteus maximus have been deemed the strongest muscles of the human body. But when it comes to sheer force there is one muscle that’s above all others: the masseter.

The masseter is a thick, flat muscle located in the cheeks, and it is part of what we call the “jaw muscles.” When the muscles of the jaw work together, they can close your back teeth (molars) with a force of up to 200 pounds and 95 pounds on the rest of your teeth. We use the jaw muscles every day to talk and chew.

But sometimes we clench our jaws involuntarily, exerting too much pressure in or around the face and temples. Bruxism is the abnormal and involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth that may occur during the day or at night while we sleep. Your dentist may diagnose you with bruxism during a regular dental check-up based on changes on your teeth.

Bruxism symptoms

Signs and symptoms that you have bruxism include:

Chipped or flattened teeth
Tight or locked jaw
Tooth sensitivity
Loud grinding noises
Sore gums
Headaches or migraines
Facial pain
Jaw popping
Facial spasms

Bruxism and migraines

Migraines are a type of chronic neurologic disorder that causes intense, debilitating pain. Though the exact cause is not fully understood, experts know that migraines can be triggered by factors such as stress, the weather, loud noises, some types of foods, etc. During a migraine attack, a person might experience daily bouts of pain that last up to a week.

Bruxism, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and toothaches have also been shown to trigger migraines in some individuals because they create tension around the head. In fact, a research study conducted in 2016 showed that migraine sufferers ground their teeth more – especially around the molar region – than those who didn’t suffer from migraines.

Treating bruxism

If you find yourself tensing your jaw, grinding your teeth, or you wake up with jaw pain, you might have bruxism or TMJ disorder. Untreated jaw disorders can wear down your teeth (attrition), aggravate migraines and cause tension headaches.

Fortunately, there are treatments available that can help prevent further tooth damage and ease the pressure off your jaw. Talk with your dentist to learn about the options available for bruxism and TMJ, including:

Mouthguards or splints: these are the best options if you are a night-time grinder because they keep the jaw in a rested position. Mouthguards can fit over your top or bottom teeth and their goal is to separate your top and bottom molars. Usually, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth and then mold the mouthguard accordingly so it can be as comfortable as possible when you use it.

Self-massage: use your fingers to massage your jaw in a circular or downwards motion applying constant, gentle pressure. Alternatively, with your mouth open, use your hand to gently push one side of your jaw. Hold it for 10 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Medications: If your bruxism or TMJ is severe, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants to help ease tension off the area. Botox injections have also been shown to be effective at temporarily reducing clenching and alleviating jaw pain.

My Migraines Keep Coming Back – The Insanity of Medication Overuse Headaches (MOH)

October 19th, 2019


You’ve probably heard it all before.  At least 30 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from migraine headaches;  75% are women.

For those who have chronic migraines (pain 15 days a month or more), the pain can be so debilitating that just waiting for it to go away, is not an option.  So those sufferers resort to either over the counter pain medications like Excedrin Migraine or prescription medications like Imitrex, or Zomig (called Triptans).

These types of medications work to varying degrees depending upon the person.  But, even when they work, all is not rosey.  Many people become so dependent upon these types of drugs in an attempt to get some relief, that without realizing it, they start using them more and more.  In fact, they start over-using them.  You may recognize this scenario in your own life.   A migraine develops that won’t go away and one of these drugs is administered. The current migraine either goes away or decreases in intensity to the point where it is manageable but a day or two later, another migraine occurs:  “The Rebound Headache.”

Of course the question needs to be asked, “Why would a person who originally starts out using them say, once a week, get to a point where he or she is actually using them several times a week?

The answers to this question, though not obvious when you are desperate and in pain, are very simple. Either the migraines are occurring more frequently, the migraines are more painful, or the drug isn’t working as well as it originally did.

Either way, which ever answer fits your particular situation, the prognosis is not good. Your migraines keep coming back and you find yourself reaching for these drugs even more because your problem is now worse…NOT better.

The responsible, occasional use of these kinds of drugs is not an issue.  They are safe and effective when used sparingly and serve a definite purpose. However, when over-used, a whole other bunch of risks come into play.

Dr. Fred Sheftell, a well known headache doctor, is upset and concerned that these medications contain no warnings on their labels. He states “There’s nothing that I know of where any of these products say anything about the genesis of rebound headaches and chronic daily headache…I’d like to see that.”

The following is an excerpt from an article posted in ABC news 20/20. It highlights just how complicated and even dangerous this dependence upon these drugs can become when people feel they have no other options to deal with their migraine pain.

A Vicious Cycle –Excerpted from ABC News 20/20

“Here’s how experts think rebound starts. Normally, when you take a pain reliever for an occasional headache, the medicine turns off pain receptors in the brain. But in a person prone to headaches — especially migraine headaches — pain relievers taken more than two to three days a week on a regular basis can make the pain receptors more sensitive than usual.

Consequently, as soon as the medicine wears off, these hyper-sensitive receptors turn on to produce a new headache. That leads the headache sufferer to take more medicine, which, in turn, leads to more headaches — a truly vicious cycle. Before long, most rebound patients are taking headache medicine every single day.

This vicious cycle nearly killed Eric Peterson, a 26-year-old veterinary student. But what will shock you is how little medicine it took to get him in trouble. Peterson’s problems started in high school with migraine headaches that hit him a couple of times a week.

“I think I started with an ibuprofen type. I wasn’t finding a tremendous amount of relief with that. I tried Excedrin and found that controlled things nicely for me,” Peterson said.

Daily Habit Can Trigger Serious Health Problems

Initially, Peterson was able to manage his headaches by taking two Excedrin just two to three times a week, but that was enough to lead to rebound headaches. Soon, Eric was taking the pain relievers every day, which was very bad for both his head and his stomach.

Peterson’s health problems became painfully clear last summer at a Chicago Cubs game. “We were walking up the stands to find our seats and I became very dizzy and light-headed and nearly passed out,” he said.

Years of taking Excedrin had eaten away at Peterson’s stomach lining. He was sitting in the stands slowly bleeding to death. Just four hours later Eric wound up in a hospital emergency room. Doctors were able to save his life, but they told him he could no longer take over-the-counter pain killers.

This was frightening news for Peterson, who had become so reliant on the pain relievers. He was more concerned about how he was going to manage his headaches than he was about the damage to his stomach. “I didn’t know how I was going to cope from day to day without having to be able to take that medication,” he said.

Stop the Medicine, Stop the Pain?

Duane Soderquist, 25 years ago, was in a situation very similar to Peterson’s. Soderquist said, “I think I had seven free headache days in 10 years.”

It was Soderquist’s case that caught the attention of Dr. Joel Saper, a neurologist and founder of the Michigan Head-Pain Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor. A pioneer in the treatment of rebound headaches, Dr. Saper said it was Soderquist who first opened his eyes to the fact that over-the-counter medications could imprison a brain in rebound headaches.

  • Soderquist had seen 20 doctors for his excruciating daily headaches. At that time, no one realized that his headaches were a result of the hyper-sensitive pain receptors in his brain turned on by the handfuls of over-the-counter medication he was taking every single day. Soderquist said he was taking about 50 tablets a day.
  • Dr. Saper hospitalized Soderquist, taking him off the medication. “I thought I was gonna die for three days,” Soderquist said. But then an amazing thing happened. Once the medication had cleared from Soderquist’s system, his headaches stopped — for the first time in 10 years. Dr. Saper said, “That’s when I learned the power and the potency of the rebound effect and the need to take people off those medicines.”
  • Today, Soderquist is virtually headache-free and enormously grateful to Dr. Saper. “The day I left and went home after not having a headache — there at the hospital, the last day — it was just like somebody took a house off my back,” Soderquist said.
  • Nearly 90 percent of the patients at Dr. Saper’s headache clinic are diagnosed with rebound headaches and each one takes the same first step: Stop the medicine.
  • Eric Peterson was actually able to detox at home, but he admits it was brutal. “For probably about three days I just had intolerable headaches. … It was probably the most miserable three days of my life,” he said.
  • But the payoff was worth it!  Eric is finally free from daily rebound headaches and he’s managing his occasional migraines with preventive medications and newer treatments like biofeedback.

Can You Get Hooked?

  • So, do these cases mean you could get hooked on the over-the-counter pain medicines you’re taking? It’s important to remember that if you’re taking these medicines for other problems, like arthritis, it’s usually OK. Rebound headaches can be triggered by the overuse of a wide variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  • But if you’re starting to take medicines more frequently for headaches be careful. Also remember that migraines are the kind of headache most likely to lead to rebound.
  • Dr. Saper said it’s most important that frequent headache sufferers consult a physician. “If you’re using this medication more than two or three days per week on a regular basis,” Dr. Saper said, “talk to your doctor about the possibility of rebound headache.”

The Caffeine Connection

It is infuriating to think that products like Excedrin Migraine contain caffeine.  It is well known that caffeine is addictive.  People trying to wean off caffeine go through major symptoms of drug withdrawal, including more headaches.   Dr. Alex Mauskop director of the New York Headache Clinic stated that “Getting off caffeine is one of the best things that migraine sufferers can do to reduce the frequency of their headaches.”

Yet this is much easier said than done and the makers of these products know it!

Signs of Rebound Headaches (Medication Overuse Headaches/Recurring Migraines

If any of the following signs apply to you, you are probably experiencing Rebound/Medication Overuse Headaches and have probably realized by now, that spending the rest of  your life taking pain medications is NOT the answer.

•You suffer from headaches daily or every other day.

•Your pain intensifies about three hours after your last dose of medication.

•Your pain medications don’t work as well as they used to.

•You take more medication, but your headaches are worse.

•You rely on more pills, and you take them more often.

•You take medication even for mild headaches, and you often try to ward off a headache by using a medication.

•You take pain relievers three to four days a week, and you average more than three tablets per day. (This depends on the kind of medication you’re taking, so you’ll need your doctor’s advice.)

•Your pain runs the gamut from mild to moderate to horrible. Usually, the pain is a dull ache that you feel on both sides of your forehead and, sometimes, on the top or back of your head.

•Your headaches occur much more frequently.

To get your life back, it may be time to stop the insanity, take yourself off auto-pilot, break the cycle of misery and opt for prevention.  It is clearly the most logical and safest approach.   When I created the MigreLief nutritional supplement for migraine suffers over twenty years ago,  it was my firm belief that  addressing migraines before they start, is preferable to spending a lifetime treating the symptoms and risking undesirable or even dangerous side-effects.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.
Chief Scientific Officer, Akeso Health Sciences

Healthy Sleep Habits to Avoid Migraines

October 6th, 2019

How many times have you gone to bed making a mental list of everything you had to do the next day: waking up at 6:00 am to make breakfast, taking the kids to school, attending back-to-back meetings at work, running back home to make it to your kid’s baseball game, etc., only to wake up with a pounding headache?

Morning migraines are more common than people realize. According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost fifty percent of all migraines occur between four and nine o’clock in the morning, ruining your day before it even starts. Time after time, researchers have found links between sleep and migraines, particularly lack of sleep as a frequent migraine trigger.


But improving your sleeping habits is not as easy as it sounds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep, and migraine sufferers are even more likely to experience sleep disturbances.

The problem with our sleeping habits, experts explain, is that we aren’t consistent with them. The vast majority of people either don’t have or don’t stick to a sleep routine. A lack of routine leaves individuals with an erratic sleep schedule that the body cannot adapt to. Fortunately, with a little planning and persistence that can change.

These are five easy steps that you can do to get a better night’s sleep and improve your morning migraines:

Limit Your Caffeine Consumption

Everybody knows that drinking coffee right before bed is a one-way ticket to a sleepless night. But did you know that drinking that 5:00 pm espresso might also be tampering with your sleeping schedule? Caffeine is a stimulant, which is a type of drug characterized by increased activity in the central nervous system and the brain.
caffeine and sleep
The short-term effects of caffeine are usually felt pretty quickly. Five to thirty minutes after drinking a cup of coffee or an energy drink, you’ll feel more energized and alert. But its long-term effects last longer, as caffeine’s half-life is about five hours.

The half-life of a substance is the time your body takes to reduce it to half of its original concentration. Since a regular 8 oz cup of brewed coffee can have up to 100 mg of caffeine, when you drink a cup at 5:00 pm you will still have around 50 mg of in your system by the time you go to bed. If you have trouble sleeping at night, limit yourself to no more than two cups of coffee per day and avoid drinking caffeinated beverages after 4:00 pm

Create the Perfect Sleep Environment

From the moment you climb inside your bed to the moment you wake up the next morning, you spend 9 to 10 hours inside your sleeping environment. That’s over 3,000 hours over the course of a year and nearly one-third of your entire life! So, if your bedroom is uncomfortable and messy, your sleep quality will decline.
Sleep Environment

If you want to get the best night’s sleep possible and improve your morning migraines, you must see your sleeping environment as a sanctuary. The concept of a sleeping environment can vary from person to person. While for many of us our bedroom is the place where we rest each night, people who travel frequently may spend more time sleeping on hotel beds than on their own bed.  But regardless of where you rest your head each night when you optimize that place for sleep, you lower your chances of waking up with a migraine. These are three essential factors to consider for improving your sleeping environment:


Everybody has an internal clock, called a circadian rhythm, that manages their sleep/wake cycles. In humans, the circadian rhythm is controlled by a group of neurons located in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is in constant communication with the eyes. Every day as the sun sets and it gets dark outside, the hypothalamus starts getting ready for sleep.

The problem is that artificial light can alter your circadian rhythm. Research has shown that taking your electronics to bed or sleeping with the TV on can signal your hypothalamus that is not bedtime yet. Avoid disrupting your internal clock by making sure your bedroom is as dark as possible when you are trying to doze off.


How many times have you woken up in the middle of the night because you were either too hot or too cold? Temperature plays a fundamental role in your sleep patterns, with a cooler bedroom being preferred for optimal rest. Research suggests that the ideal temperature for sleep should be around 60 to 67 degrees, but remember to wear socks as cold feet tend to be very disruptive for sleep.


Any loud or sudden noises that jar you awake have negative effects on your sleeping patterns and increase your likelihood of waking up with a migraine. If you live near a busy street or in a noisy neighborhood, consider investing in a pair of high-quality earplugs or a white noise machine. Research shows that constant white noise can induce sleep and block out background sounds.

Consider a Natural Sleeping Aid

Some nights, no matter what we do, we just can’t sleep. But before you give up on the inevitability of waking up with a migraine, consider taking a natural supplement to help you reset your internal clock and ease you back to sleep. There are many research-backed, non-habit forming natural ingredients that can facilitate sleep including; valerian extract, melatonin, magnesium, zizyphus jujube extract and glycine.

Medical providers have known for over a century that there is an association between poor sleep and the frequency and intensity of migraine and other pain syndromes.  When it comes to sleep, small adjustments can lead to big rewards.  Sleep influences all aspects of life.  Establishing or reestablishing healthy sleep patterns will help control migraines as well as support overall health and longevity.

Learn more about sleep and the risk of chronic disease as well as natural options for promoting deep sleep.  Download Sleep/Insomnia White Paper.

7 Health Conditions Associated with Migraines

September 29th, 2019

There’s no question about it: migraines can be extremely painful and debilitating. But did you know that they can also affect your health? Migraines can impact the body in several different ways. From increasing the risk for cardiovascular problems to triggering digestive issues, these are seven conditions that are associated with migraines.


Coexisting Conditions vs. Comorbidity

When two conditions are found in the same person but the incidence is not greater than what is seen in the general population, these are referred to as coexisting conditions. For example, a patient may have migraine and asthma. There is no evidence suggesting that these two conditions exist in a single patient more frequently than these conditions exist in individual patients in the general population. In contrast, migraine and depression appear to be comorbid because they occur together more often than they occur in individual patients in the general population.

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stroke
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypertension

These illnesses are now recognized as being common migraine comorbidities.


Migraines and insomnia have a two-way relationship; poor sleep can trigger migraines, and migraines definitely can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. It is estimated that one in four people have insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep, waking out repeatedly throughout the night, and not having a restful sleep. People with insomnia tend to get less than six hours of sleep.

Scientists believe that one of the reasons why sleep deprivation is so closely related to migraines has to do with pain processing. A research study published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience looked at the relationship between sleep and pain.

Researchers measured the brain activity and pain thresholds of 25 participants during one night of sound sleep and one sleep-deprived night. Their results showed that participants’ pain threshold was significantly lower when they were sleep-deprived than when they had a restful sleep.  Migraine sufferers should pay close attention to their sleep habits and if that isn’t enough, consider nutritional supplements for extra support.  Melatonin, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Glycine, Valerian Root, Zizyphus Jujube, and Hops are all well-known supplements for establishing healthy sleep patterns.


A stroke happens when there is a sudden interruption in the blood flow to the brain, depriving it of the oxygen and nutrients that it needs to survive. When strokes are not caught in time, it can cause severe tissue damage and disability. Strokes are the fifth cause of death in the and the leading cause of disability in the United States.

There is not enough evidence to suggests that migraines cause strokes. However, several research studies have found connections between strokes and aura – the sensory symptoms that sometimes precede migraines. According to an investigation conducted by the American Stroke Association, individuals who have migraines with aura are 2.4 more likely to have a stroke than those without aura.


Epilepsy, also called seizure disorder, is a neurological condition that causes seizures that originate in the brain. A person is typically diagnosed with epilepsy after they’ve had more than two unprovoked seizures.

Just like migraines, abnormal activities in the brain cause seizures. However, not everybody who suffers from migraines will necessarily develop seizures and vice versa. EEG scans have shown that the brain activity that during a migraine is similar to the activity that occurs during a seizure, but researchers are still trying to make sense of out that connection.

Heart Disease

Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is an umbrella term for a cluster of conditions that affect the health of the heart. Some of the conditions that fall under the heart disease group include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Arrhythmia
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Angina
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart infections

Heart disease and migraines do not have a comorbid relationship however, research suggests that migraines with aura increase the risk of developing heart disease, particularly within the first year of diagnosis. People with migraines also tend to have heart disease-related risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and an irregular heartbeat.

Anxiety & Depression

Anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health issues and are comorbid with migraine. In the United States, it is estimated that more than 18% of the population suffers from at least one type of anxiety, 6% from depression, and even more in the case of migraine sufferers.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, as many as 40% of people with migraines suffer from depression. Other mental health problems that are more prevalent among migraine sufferers are generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, and substance abuse.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine (aka the colon). IBS causes abdominal cramping, constipation and/or diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Though the cause of IBS is not known, doctors believe that faulty communications between the gastrointestinal tract (GI) and the brain may play an important role.

It is a well-known fact that nausea, vomiting, and digestive issues are common symptoms of migraine attacks. In fact, there is a type of migraine without headaches, called abdominal migraine, which occurs mostly in children but is now being diagnosed more frequently in adults.  Now, recent studies have also discovered that people (especially women) who have IBS are more likely to suffer from migraines.


Research studies show that there is a bidirectional relationship between migraines and fibromyalgia (FM). That means that in some cases, FM has been observed to trigger migraines and in others, migraines seem to provoke FM. It is estimated that between 45 and 80 percent of patients with FM suffer from chronic migraines and 18 to 35% of chronic migraine sufferers also suffer with fibromyalgia.  According to a recent study in published in the British Medical Journal, fibromyalgia had stronger predictive power for the onset of migraine than did migraine for the onset of fibromyalgia.

The Comorbidity and Coexisting Condition Challenge

If you’ve been diagnosed with a physical and/or mental health condition, keep good records of the care that you receive from various professionals, so that each can be aware of the various treatments you are receiving and various therapies you are using.  It is important  to avoid negative drug interactions.  Also, the treatments that benefit one condition may be detrimental for another.

If possible, prevent comorbid conditions from taking hold by addressing early symptoms as soon as possible.  For example, if social anxiety disorder is left untreated for a long time, it may lead to depression and substance abuse.   Don’t forget that good nutrition and  proper sleep goes a long way toward maintaining good health and longevity.


Avoid Back to School Migraines – A Guide for Parents & Students

September 1st, 2019

Back to school time can literally mean headaches for kids as they adjust from a relaxing summer vacation schedule to a more stringent daily routine. Everybody knows that going back to school can be stressful – different teachers, new friends, and a whole new set of responsibilities can overwhelm even the most confident of kids or teenagers. Parents should be aware that their children are at higher risk for developing headaches and migraines at the beginning of a new school year.  As high as 35% of kids can suffer from some type of reoccurring headache, and up to a quarter of those headaches can be migraines.  Emotional issues, stress, and sleep issues can cause migraines in these children. As the number of attacks increase, depression and sleep disorders can escalate.

Headaches can range from minor nuisances to extremely uncomfortable, and when they become chronic (constantly recurring), they can take a serious toll on a child’s ability to go about daily life. There are several types of headaches: cluster headaches, tension headaches, sinus headaches, and many more. However, one of the most common (and intense) types of headaches are migraines.

Children and Migraines

What Are Migraines?
A migraine is a severe neurological disorder most often accompanied by an extremely painful and debilitating headache, and other symptoms such as nausea and/or vomiting, sound and light sensitivity and at times visual disturbances (auras).

Migraines don’t just affect adults; some children start suffering from them as early as the age of two, and it is estimated that around 10% of all school-aged kids and teenagers get migraines periodically. Children’s migraines may be more bilateral such as pain across the forehead as opposed to unilateral, one side of the head.  The pain may be of shorter duration than an adult’s migraine and less frequent.

Children may also experience abdominal migraines, severe stomach pain without a headache which may or may not be accompanied by vomiting.  If you child experiences cyclic vomiting or stomach pain, ask your pediatrician about abdominal migraine.  Unfortunately, doctors and researchers are not completely sure of what causes migraine.  Migraines are thought to be hereditary.  A child with one parent who suffers with migraines has a 50% risk of developing them.  If both parents suffer with migraines, the risk increases to 75%.

What Are Migraine Triggers?
While on the surface migraines seem to come out of nowhere, most people can identify at least some of the factors that set off an attack. These factors are called triggers, and they vary from person to person. For some, triggers can be as specific as particular sounds or smells, while for others, their triggers can be extremely common daily events like stress or hormonal changes, and therefore are much harder to avoid.

Learning to identify triggers can significantly reduce both the amount and the severity of migraines as the new school year starts. According to the National Headache Foundation, the amount of migraine and headache-related visits to the emergency room by children between the ages of 5 and 18 increases every year around fall.

As you may have already guessed, stress is one of the main culprits of back to school migraines; children as young as five can feel anxious and overwhelmed about schedule changes, new extracurricular activities, and everything else that comes with the beginning of a new academic year. But stress is not the only factor that can set off migraines on school-aged children and young adults. Other common triggers include:

Sleep deprivation
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children between the ages of four and 13 get 10 to 12 hours of sleep every night. A good night’s sleep is not only essential for growth and development; it also has been shown that sleep deprivation is one of the most common migraine triggers for both children and adults.

However, more than 90% of high-schoolers and nearly 80% of middle-schoolers start school before 8:30 am. It is also common that teens don’t fall asleep before 11:00 pm, making it harder to get the recommended amount of sleep each night. As if that wasn’t enough, during the first weeks of school, thanks to all the stress and excitement of the new academic year, kids and teens find it even harder to get enough sleep.

Skipping meals
Skipping or waiting too long between meals is also a big migraine trigger for school-aged children and young adults. During the first few weeks of school, as kids settle into their new schedules, it can be easy to skip breakfast or grab a quick snack for lunch, but this could mean bad news for migraine sufferers.

Skipping meals or waiting too long to ear, can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low. This is called hypoglycemia and it usually causes headaches even for people who don’t suffer from migraines. Migraine attacks and headaches caused by low blood sugar levels are usually more painful and can last longer than other attacks. They also tend to be accompanied by blurred vision, nausea, excessive yawning, sweating, and mood swings.

Screen time
It is important to monitor your children’s screen time to avoid migraines and headaches.  Most of us have suffered the consequences of spending too much time on the computer or staring at our phones; our eyes hurt, our neck becomes stiff, and almost inevitably a headache creeps in. Migraine attacks triggered by the computer or phone screen are becoming increasingly common now that we spend a good portion of our days on our electronic devices.

Prolonged screen time has been shown to trigger migraines for several reasons: first, fixating your eyes on a monitor for a long time requires effort from both your brain and your ocular muscles, both of which have to work quite hard to keep focused on the screen for an extended period of time.

Also, extremely bright screens can trigger migraines in people who are photosensitive (sensitive to bright lights). Aside from these factors, hunching over the computer, tablet or phone can lead to neck and back pain which can worsen migraines.

Did you know that healthcare professionals estimate that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? There is a lot of controversy regarding how much water a person should drink; some sources recommend 8 glasses, others have said that the appropriate amount is between 11 and 15 cups, and others assure that drinking 2 to 3 cups of water every hour should be enough to keep you hydrated.

Remind your kids to stay well hydrated.  Ultimately, the amount of water people need is based on a variety of factors like their weight, activity level, whether it is hot or cold outside, etc. The best way to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle with you at all times and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink – according to healthcare professionals, once thirst hits you are already dehydrated!


Other common migraine triggers for school-aged children and teens include:

  • Caffeine
  • Loud noises
  • Strong odors
  • Lunch meats
  • Chocolate
  • Salty foods
  • Alcohol and smoke
  • Stress
  • Some types of cheese
  • Food additives and chemicals (like MSG)
  • Teeth grinding
  • Weather changes

Managing Migraines at School
As you may have realized, some of the most common school-related migraine triggers can be hard to avoid. Since there is nothing you can do to control triggers like the temperature outside, puberty and hormonal changes, bright lights in the classroom, and loud noises, managing  migraines can become a frustrating task.

The good news is that other triggers like lack of sleep, stress, skipping meals, and dehydration can be prevented by making healthier choices. Here are five tips to keep migraines at bay during the school year.

1. Improve Sleep Hygiene
Even though according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kids and teenagers could benefit from starting school later in the day both health and academic-wise, most children still have to wake up before 7:00 am to get to school on time. This means that getting enough sleep can be an extremely difficult – if not impossible task for some kids.

But if you suffer from migraines, maintaining good sleeping habits should be just as important as eating healthy or exercising. We recommend getting ready to sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene habits hours before you even go to bed to get the best quality sleep possible.

By limiting daytime naps as much as possible, making sure you don’t consume caffeine or foods that can disrupt sleep (particularly fatty, sugary or rich foods) too close to bedtime, and not bringing your cellphone or tablet to bed, you will be able fall asleep earlier and keep insomnia from triggering a migraine. For the first few weeks of school, try going to bed earlier than usual as that will help you get more sleep in and reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with the new school year.

2. Keep a Trigger Tracker
One of the worst things about migraines is not knowing when they are going to happen. Getting a headache before a midterm, right in the middle of class or during an extracurricular activity can be extremely frustrating. That’s why learning to recognize the factors that set them off is extremely important, and the best way of doing so is with a trigger tracker.

Keeping a trigger tracker is easy; you can use a notebook, a diary or your phone to list anything that was consumed or that happened right before a migraine started.  Have your child note, for example, if they were about to take a test when the headache began, or were in the middle of PE; these are all things worth noting.  Other important things to include on a trigger tracker or migraine diary are any symptoms that your child felt (auras) leading up to the attack, where the pain was located, the weather that day, etc.

Over time, you will be able to connect the dots and identify some of the factors that may cause or worsen your child’s migraines. Learning to recognize these factors can help  prevent future migraines or at least be prepared when it happens.  (Downloadable Migraine Diary & Trigger Tracker)

3. Consider a Nutritional Supplement
There are several prescription drugs that treat migraines but they often come with unwanted side-effects.  Nutritional supplements are a safe and healthy option. Different plant extracts, vitamins, and minerals have been shown to be beneficial for adults and children over the age of two with migraines.  The following three have scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness:

Magnesium – Several studies have shown that migraines may be partly caused by low magnesium levels in the brain, which is why taking a daily magnesium supplement can help prevent these and other types of headaches.  Magnesium has numerous effects that support cerebrovascular (blood vessels in the brain) tone and function. 180 mg per day for children and 360 mg per day for adults is recommended.

Feverfew – The herb feverfew is a plant that belongs to the daisy family and has also been shown to be extremely beneficial for adults and children suffering migraines.  Feverfew has been known to help maintain normal platelet aggregation (avoid clumping together of blood platelets) and reduce or eliminate vasospasms in the brain’s blood vessels. 50 mg per day for children and 100 mg per day for adults is recommended.

Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) – Many migraine sufferers are known to have mitochondrial energy deficiencies before a migraine attack.  The mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells.  Riboflavin at the correct dose helps maintain healthy mitochondrial energy reserves, and has been known to help keep migraines at bay.  200 mg per day for children age 2-12 and 400 mg per day for teens and adults is recommended.

Remember, when it comes to taking dietary supplements, consistency is key for migraine sufferers.  There is a build-up period of up to 3 months where supplements must be taken every day to experience maximum benefits.

4. Make a Plan
Once you’ve been able to identify migraine triggers using a tracker or a diary, plan ahead to avoid a ‘surprise’ attack when possible. During the first few weeks of school, help your child to remove any unnecessary stressors from his or her day to day activities; for example, have your child pack his or her backpack the night before so he or she is not running around in the morning looking for supplies – stressing out early in the morning, or as we mentioned earlier, skipping breakfast, are big migraine triggers.

Also, your child should keep emergency snacks in a bag or backpack  in case of hunger during the day but remember that fatty or sugary foods sometimes trigger headaches. Some quick snacks that are considered “migraine safe” foods include:

  • Plain pretzels
  • Saltines
  • Bread (white, wheat, rye, bagels, etc.)
  • Cereal (except sugary cereals or cereals with nuts or dried fruits)
  • Carrot sticks or other vegetables

5. Reach Out
Suffering from migraines at school can make children feel isolated and different from  peers. Sometimes they may choose to avoid hanging out with friends or skip social events because they are concerned about getting a migraine. Many people who suffer from migraines feel lonely and misunderstood because of their chronic pain.  To fight those feelings of loneliness and frustration, it is important to encourage your child talk about what they are feeling and to reach out to  friends and family members who want to be supportive.

Parents should also talk to the teacher or guidance counselor – more often than not schools offer resources like testing accommodations, screen reading technologies to help  with eye strain, photo-sensitivity, and more.

Remember that there are things you can do to keep migraines from controlling your child’s life, like having your child stick to a good migraine prevention regimen including sticking to a healthy sleep schedule.

To the Best of Health,

The MigreLief Team at Akeso Health Sciences





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